Clayoquat Sound, Vancouver Island

August 22 - 25, 2002

Dave Svilar, Matt Elley

I had been wanting to get out on a kayaking trip for a long time, and the opportunity had finally arrived.  Matt had just added a second sea kayak to his arsenal of outdoor equipment, so he took Friday off work and we headed north.  At our first stop in Bellingham Matt took pity on a homeless man and bought him a Whopper.  Despite his drunken state of affairs the homeless man took note of the camping equipment strapped to the Corolla, and tried to return Matt's kindness by extending an offer to camp with him that night.  We politely explained that although we'd love to camp with him behind Walgreens we had a long road ahead. 

We crossed the border into Canada and caught the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  By this time it was late and we were tired, but Matt was determined to make it to a "good camp-spot" near Tofino on the west coast of the island.  I took the wheel around 2 a.m. and drove the windy road under a bright moon playing games with myself to stay awake.  Matt's "good camp-spot" turned out to be next to the county dump.  We finally crawled into the back of the Corolla close to 5 a.m. and slept for a solid five hours.

Matt loads up the Corolla after a night of camping near the dump.  No smell + no cost = good campsite.

In the morning we struggled trying to find a place to put the kayaks in the water and park the car for the weekend.  I left the details of the trip up to Matt.  Matt isn't the type of person to consult a guidebook for much of anything.  Out of curiosity I checked a guidebook after our trip to see what the pros consider "essential kayak gear."  Out of a page-long list we only had the kayak and life preservers.  Matt's idea of a map was to bring the Canadian road atlas.  This handy tool enabled us to identify the Pacific Ocean.

By early afternoon we found the marina in Tofino and set out on the water.  We immediately found ourselves in a scenic inlet with a snow covered peak at the end.  The water was like glass and the temperatures comfortable.  What the kayaks lacked in speed they made up for in stability, which worked in my favor considering I was a rookie.

Matt glides across smooth waters near Tofino, B.C.

Another benefit of Matt's kayaks was the durability.  When we found a suitable place to camp we dragged the boats up onto the rocks without worrying about scratching the bottoms.  Our camp was a tiny island without any trees - just a grassy knoll.  No houses, boats or people were nearby, only peace and quiet. 

Dave and Matt from our camp on the grassy knoll.

Another bonus of kayaking is that one does not have to skimp on gear.  I brought a week's worth of food, reading material and other treats.  Matt even managed to stuff a boom box in his kayak. We listened to some Dire Straits, slept on the grassy knoll, read and generally relaxed.  My plan was to paddle around the bay near sunset, but the treats in my boat seemed to kill my motivation to explore diverting my focus to eating.

Matt prepares dinner as the fog rolls in from the Pacific Ocean.

Matt and I sat up until after dark discussing world affairs.  I hadn't spent quality time with Matt since I left for my trip in spring, so I was curious to hear about his latest conspiracy theory.  He felt that the government was using the terrorist threats to build spy technology that would ultimately threaten our privacy as citizens.  I told Matt that I didn't care if the government spied on me or not.  Any government official that delved too far into my affairs would develop depression.  The conversation finally ended up on girls and I fell asleep.

We paddled around in the fog the next morning, exited the inlet and explored what appeared to be the real Clayoquat Sound.  Suddenly there was boat traffic, choppy waves, and other kayakers.  Fortunately the views and shorelines were even more beautiful than our other inlet. 

Me paddling through Clayoquat Sound.

We passed a tiny Indian village and found a perfect campsite on a beach tucked between large rock outcroppings.  Again we found plenty of ways to entertain ourselves including frisbee on the beach.  The boat traffic was constant including several boats loaded with tourists on their way to whale-watch.  Matt and I were content to sit on the rocks and watch the sunset.

Me looking out from camp on the second evening.

We put our bivy sacks out on the rocks and enjoyed another perfect night comforted by waves lapping only a few feet away.  We awoke to thick fog Sunday morning and took extra caution on our way back to Tofino.  From there we made the long journey via ferry back home. 

Not only did I enjoy my first kayak trip, but I also had my eyes opened even wider to the endless recreational opportunities that British Columbia has to offer.  I hope to be back to tap into those opportunities in the years to come.

-written October 2002

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